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02 September 2013 @ 02:52 pm
a post about time travel and romcoms  
So I guess Richard Curtis' film About Time is due to come out soon (time-travel romcom), so the Guardian put together a list of "top 10 time-travelers" that led to the following YouTube link for an entire series, Goodnight, Sweetheart, about a man who pops back and forth between his present and the WW2 era, to...cheat on his wife in the past, I guess?:

And a related piece (spoilers for About Time, though mild ones - nothing you wouldn't know if you'd already seen the trailer):

(what's interesting about this is that while it might be largely true of film, it doesn't really hold true for TV, and it's definitely not true for books, especially children's/YA ones.)

The piece briefly mentions an anime film that I really liked and ought to watch again, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - with, I think, the unfair remark that the heroine "doesn't have a choice" and so it doesn't really count. Lots of time-travelers travel inadvertently, including some of the male travelers she mentions (Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife, for example). I think you can go two ways: determined, purposeful time travel (usually via machine), or scary, inexplicable natural or magical phenomenon (time-slip) - and you're doing different things depending on the method you choose. The first is often about exploration, experimentation, or prevention: what happens to time if you do this? what was history really like? can you kill Hitler, or stop the rise of the robots?

The second is often more philosophical and self-oriented: what is time, exactly? what happens to me if I stay here? what makes me who I am? how can I relate to other people meaningfully if I'm hurtling through time, or if they're dead long before I was ever born? where do I belong? Obviously there's overlap - especially if your time machine breaks down or your ride can't pick you up - but I see at least the beginnings of a dividing line.

Which is - and I was doing surprisingly well at not making this about Doctor Who - one of the things I really like about the Weeping Angels, because in a narrative where time travel is often quite controllable*, the Weeping Angels cause anarchic time travel; they force the victims to deal with that second batch of questions, as they're ripped out of their own lives and deposited into the past. (This is also why I love the two-parter "Human Nature/Family of Blood," especially that scene with Martha outside the pub in 1913, gazing up at the stars and clinging to the hope that she'll be back out among them with everything she's got: what happens to her if she has to stay there? If her self-identity as a doctor gets completely dismissed because she's Black and a woman? The historicals are often my favorites, because of the clash of present and past - "Vincent and the Doctor" for the win, for always - but I love "Human Nature" particularly because it's about staying in the past for a long period of time, not just touching down for an adventure and then hopping away again.)

*Insert joke about the Doctor's terrible driving skills here. Or, if you prefer, the exchange from "The Doctor's Wife": "You didn't always take me where I wanted to go!" "But I always took you where you needed to go." But as long as he has the TARDIS, no matter where the Doctor winds up, he's not really in any danger of not being able to get away and go someplace else.
cschellscschells on September 2nd, 2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this post! It's timely--I think our readathon is going to be time-travel themed this year, so I've been thinking about the topic lately. (I'm actually personally a little phobic about time travel--it causes me all kinds of anxiety!--so I need some nice, rational discussions to look at *g*)
tempestsarekind: amy eleven TARDIStempestsarekind on September 2nd, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Glad to have been of help! I'm quite the fan of time travel stories; I blame early (and frequent) exposure to Penelope Farmer's book Charlotte Sometimes and Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic. And Susan Cooper's King of Shadows, of course... Although now that I think about it, I'm not all that interested in present-to-future time travel, at least in novels.

If you need to vent any anxiety, feel free! :)
cschellscschells on September 3rd, 2013 02:35 am (UTC)
I'm not sure there are a lot of present to future novels? At least, I was having trouble coming up with any for our game. (Although, to be fair, I hadn't heard of any of the ones that you mention anyway--will make a note!) I was thinking that the closest we would probably get is pointing kids toward the dystopian novels along the lines of City of Embers, Hunger Games, etc. Things that take place in a futuristic-type setting... even if it's not people from the present traveling there. And then maybe stories that have immortal/very hard to kill characters who live for a long time (there I was thinking of The Dark is Rising books, at least!).
tempestsarekind: martha + ten + TARDIStempestsarekind on September 3rd, 2013 03:17 am (UTC)
(Got a bit carried away - sorry!)

Hmm...yeah, I guess I was just thinking of H.G. Wells for present-to-future novels, really. :) I know there are probably some others, but none that come to mind!

The Dark is Rising would be good! And I guess the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud have an immortal narrator (a djinni) for at least part of the time; I've only read the first one, though. And Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt? Then there's Locked in Time by Lois Duncan, although that might be for slightly older readers. And, I guess, The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, although it takes a long time to get to the immortals part.

I think there's time stuff (a very technical term) in some Diana Wynne Jones books as well... there's A Tale of Time City, anyway.

Oh! And I've never actually read Lloyd Alexander's Time Cat, but it exists. :) There's also The House of Arden by E. Nesbit and Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, which both revolve around a particular house, and A Traveller in Time by Allison Uttley, which was recently reissued by the NYRB press.
cschellscschells on September 3rd, 2013 06:27 pm (UTC)
Wow! I'm making a note of all these to share with the people who will be doing book purchasing--thanks! And I'm looking forward to at least reading the synopses myself... Maybe we can have a Time Cat as one of our team mascots. I think it would be quite popular! *g*
tempestsarekind: brighter than sunflowerstempestsarekind on September 3rd, 2013 09:21 pm (UTC)
I think a Time Cat would be a great mascot! You could have a Time Bird, too, I suppose, since time flies...
cschellscschells on September 7th, 2013 10:59 pm (UTC)
Heh! I like it. *g*
melancholy in the rainliseuse on September 2nd, 2013 07:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, I loved Goodnight Sweetheart when it first aired. I watched some, a while ago, when it was being repeated on some channel and wow, it has not aged well. But, the main character didn't intentionally set out to cheat on his wife, he met someone else in the past and ended up having a relationship with her. It's no less wrong, but it does throw up questions about who you are if you time travel, and whether you can create a new life for yourself; especially because he can hop back and forth between the times.
tempestsarekind: bananas are goodtempestsarekind on September 2nd, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
That makes me feel much better about the premise, anyway! For some reason I interpreted the summary as a much more frivolous sort of thing.
melancholy in the rainliseuse on September 2nd, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the main character (Gary?) does a lot of angsting about cheating on his wife - his best friend in the present knows that he can time travel, and ends up being Gary's confidante, and the recipient of a lot of eeeeping about cheating on his wife, and how much he loves wife-in-the-past. I don't remember the show every really thinking about anything overly philosophically as a large plot/storyline but Gary has moments of self-awareness.
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on September 2nd, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
That must have been wearying for the best friend. :) It's good to know it was at least an issue on the show, though.